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What Kind of Food Can You Eat with Braces?


June 21st, 2022

An estimated 53% of Americans have malocclusion, a misalignment of teeth. Misalignment is caused by many factors, including extra teeth, abnormally shaped teeth, injuries, or poorly fitted dental fillings and crowns. However, most cases of malocclusion are hereditary.

While several treatment options are available, braces continue to be the gold standard for treating malocclusion and helping patients develop healthy smiles. There are over 4 million people in the US who wear braces. Braces aren’t just for children either, and 25% of these individuals are adults.

Braces are a long-term treatment plan, with the average patient wearing braces for around two years. However, the amount of time you’ll wear braces will depend on the cause and severity of your malocclusion. While braces are incredibly beneficial, you’ll need to take care of them and your teeth, including adhering to the foods you can and can’t eat while wearing them.

Many people are concerned about what kind of food they can eat with braces. Urban Orthodontics is here to provide stellar results on your journey to a healthier smile and answer your questions along the way.

What Foods Can You Eat with Braces? 

Are you wondering what kind of foods you can eat with braces? Then, you’ve come to the right place.

While the material and color of braces have changed over time, the foods you can and cannot eat haven’t changed. Making these changes to your diet is important to protect your braces. Eating the wrong foods can bend or break wires, and possibly loosen the bracket from the teeth.

If you need braces, our orthodontist will provide you with a complete list of foods to avoid during your first visit. However, we have a cheat sheet you can go by throughout your treatment.

When wearing braces, feel free to eat foods like:

Dairy Products

  • Soft cheeses and dips
  • Yogurt and Greek yogurt
  • Pudding
  • Milk-based smoothies
  • Cottage cheese
  • Ice cream
  • Milkshakes

Breads

  • Pizza without the crust
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles 
  • Soft pretzels
  • Muffins
  • Cupcakes
  • Soft tortillas
  • Soft bread-based sandwiches

Grains

  • Pastas
  • Mac & cheese
  • Oatmeal
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Cold and hot cereals that don’t contain nuts

Boneless Meats

  • Tender cuts of meat
  • Seafood
  • Sausage
  • Fried chicken
  • Ground beef
  • Ground chicken
  • Ground turkey
  • Lunch meats
  • Hot dogs
  • Meatballs
  • Eggs

Vegetables

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Soft and cooked vegetables
  • Beans
  • Salads

Fruits

  • Bananas
  • Apples cut into small slices
  • Applesauce
  • Pears cut into small slices
  • Fruit-based smoothies
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes

Deserts

  • Soft, moist cakes that don’t contain nuts
  • Soft cookies
  • Soft brownies
  • Pies
  • Donuts without nuts
  • Peanut butter cups
  • Plain chocolate

Drinks

  • Juice
  • Tea
  • Horchata
  • Hot chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Lemonade
  • Milk 

While it’s important to know the answer to what kind of food you can eat with braces, it’s equally important that you take extra care when eating. Here are some great tips we recommend to all of our patients:

  • Always eat softer foods
  • Cut your food into smaller bites
  • Avoid opening your mouth too wide
  • Avoid biting down too hard
  • Cut the crust off of pizza before eating it
  • Avoid chewy bagels
  • Never eat meat off the bone
  • Chew your food slowly 

What Can You Eat in the First Week of Braces?

Your mouth may be sore or sensitive after you first get braces, and you’ll need to learn how to chew differently. As a result, it’s common for patients to ask what you can eat in the first week of braces.

We recommend choosing soft, easy-to-chew foods during the first week following your appointment. Some of the best foods to eat include:

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Soft cheeses
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Fruit Cups
  • Smoothies
  • Seafood
  • Moist desserts
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Soup
  • Yogurt

Mouth sensitivity generally improves after the initial week, but you may begin to feel better in a few days. At that point, you should be able to eat many of the approved foods seen in the list above. However, if your mouth is ever sore or sensitive, such as after an adjustment, you can eat the soft foods on this shorter list until you feel better again. If you are already in braces you already know after each visit your teeth may feel a little sore. For most people the soreness is temporary and it isn’t too bad, however if you have sensitive teeth the soreness can be uncomfortable. There is a small trick we recommend to minimize this discomfort. We advise these patients to eat at least 1 hour before your braces appointment and to also take a mild pain over the counter pain reliever you would normally take for aches and pain, such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Dr. Chelian also recommends patients take a pain reliever before going to bed on the first night after getting your braces and usually the next day morning if still sore. After 2-3 days your body and teeth will get used to the pressure and the soreness will disappear. 

What Foods Can’t I Eat with Braces Initially? 

You should only eat foods that are more comfortable to chew during the first week of having braces. If your mouth sensitivity persists beyond that point, we recommend that you continue to eat the softer approved foods until you feel more comfortable chewing.

Examples of foods that you can typically eat with braces that you should avoid during that initial period include:

  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches
  • Waffles and pancakes
  • Muffins
  • Cereals
  • Most meats
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Desserts that you have to chew more, like brownies, cookies, and donuts 

Foods to Continue Avoiding While You Have Braces 

While there are plenty of delicious foods you can eat while wearing braces, there are also many foods that you’ll need to avoid. Questions like “can you eat chips with braces?” are common. Unfortunately, chips and other crunchy foods are out of the question. So, it’s more about what you can’t eat than what you can eat with braces.

But it’s not just crunchy foods that can damage your braces. You’ll also need to avoid hard, chewy, or gooey foods. Not only will these foods damage your braces, but dental appliances can be broken off or dislodged, which can become choking hazards. If this happens it will extend the time you have to wear braces.

You may be wondering what foods you can’t eat with braces. You can use this extensive list as a cheat sheet going forward.

  • Caramel apples
  • Caramels
  • Cashews
  • Celery
  • Cheese puffs
  • Cheez-Its
  • Chewing gum
  • Chips
  • Corn on the cob
  • Crackers
  • Crunchy bread
  • Goldfish
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola
  • Gummy fruit snacks and gummy worms
  • Hard candy
  • Hard-shell tacos
  • Ice
  • Jerky
  • Nuts
  • Pizza crust
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels
  • Rice cakes
  • Saltine crackers
  • Sticky foods and candy, like Starbursts, taffy, Tootsie Rolls, or licorice
  • Thick bagels
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Toast
  • Whole apples

While knowing the foods you can and can’t eat is the main takeaway of this guide, there are also activities and habits you should avoid while wearing braces, including:

  • Chewing on bottle caps
  • Pen or pencil chewing
  • Nail-biting
  • Use of toothpicks
  • Straw chewing
  • Teeth grinding 

Contact Urban Orthodontics for a Consultation

Braces are incredibly beneficial to your oral health. While two years may feel like a long time, you’re preserving the health and longevity of your teeth for years to come.

Now that we’ve discussed what kind of food you can eat with braces, it’s easy to see that braces don’t keep you from enjoying many delicious meals and snacks. There are just extra precautions you’ll need to take and some foods you’ll need to avoid during the treatment process.

While our orthodontists will discuss the foods you’ll need to avoid, be sure to ask any questions you have about your oral health and treatment plan. We want to be part of your journey and help you achieve the results you need for a healthy mouth for years to come. It’s never too late to see an orthodontist about misalignments, overbites, overcrowding, or other common problems.

Of course, it can seem challenging to find the time to consult with an orthodontist about your oral health. We know you’re busy, and that’s why we’re proud to offer virtual consultation services. If you need braces or another treatment plan, we’ll schedule your first visit at the end of the consultation.

Learn what our patients say about Urban Orthodontics, and contact us today to schedule your in-office or virtual consultation.

Dr. Chelian is an orthodontist in Union City New Jersey. After completing his orthodontic specialty residency at Roseman University, he practiced orthodontics in Nevada and Arizona before ultimately settling in New Jersey. Dr. Chelian is passionate about all things ortho!

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